August 20 – Missions Spotlight – Tracey Price

Read Matthew 19:13-15, 9: 35-38, 1 Timothy 2:4-6

Ministry: Christian Education in the Northwestern and Norwayne Public Schools

Missionaries: Tracey Price, Beth Terwilliger, Chad Palmer, Josh Chaffin

We have a unique opportunity to share the gospel with public school students K-8th grade during their school day each week. There is, no doubt, a decline in church attendance, so our mission focus is to share the life changing message of Jesus with children and give them an opportunity to respond.

Released Time programs represent a powerful way to reach children whose parents are not believers or active in church. Parents find it a good way to give their children some “religious training.”

The book of Matthew, chapter 19, makes it clear that children are loved and valued by Jesus, and not to be overlooked. While children may not fully understand repentance and faith, the Holy Spirit does not limit His activity to adults. The seeds of faith can take root in children very young, even if it takes many years to actually see the fruit. We must be praying for the hearts of these children to be open to the gospel and to choose to follow Jesus. We also must build relationships with these little ones so we can let the light of Jesus shine through us. 

In Matthew 9 and 1Timothy 2, we are reminded of the ripe harvest and of God’s desire for everyone to be saved and know truth. Statistically, just over 30% of children ages 5-13 accept Christ. For those 14-18 years old, 14% respond and 6% of those 19 and up. There is simply no better time than right now to reach the children for Jesus.

Meeting the spiritual needs of children today by presenting the gospel and building relationships is critical. Released time programs are a wonderful and effective way to point children to Jesus. 

The Northwestern campus has an 87% participation rate in elementary school and the Norwayne campus 95%.  The middle schools at both campuses have much lower participation numbers due to scheduling and other opportunities offered during the school day. 

Our program relies heavily on the participation of our MANY volunteers (over 80) and the prayers and financial support of area churches and individuals.

Please be in prayer for the hearts of our teachers to be like the heart of Jesus toward the children, for boldness to share the gospel, and for our eyes to be open to the various spiritual and physical needs of the students, and that the children would respond to the gospel.

July 22 – $ – Contentment

Read 1 Timothy 6:6-12

Currency is a made-up concept. Seriously, think about it…somewhere along the way we decided that we needed to record value with something. We developed currency as that system. It has since developed to where the majority of our monetary worth is recorded electronically as something we can’t physically touch. These electronic records have seen plenty of mockery throughout the past year with “meme stocks” like AMC, GameStop, and Blackberry soaring in the markets from keyboard jockeys pumping their value. Possibly more laughable is the cryptocurrency Dogecoin which was started as a joke to point out that currency is entirely made up.

However, as farcical as currency becomes, it is vital to living in a society. It provides everyday needs, it provides sustenance and it provides fun along the way. Without the right mindset, we can quickly fall in love. But this kind of love is a one-way street; money doesn’t love us and we spiral into a void that sucks us in like an addiction. In our reading today, Paul goes so far as to say that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. I recently read an article about an heir to the Disney fortune saying that some wealthy people “would rather be shot than fly first class,” explaining that private is superior to airline terminals. She went on to compare aspiration of wealth to an addiction that is always just out of reach.

It doesn’t matter how much your bank account reads, everyone can fall into the trap of wanting to reach the next level. I remember, when I was first out of college, that my little paycheck felt like a lot of money. That feeling quickly faded. Then I worked in the financial industry and my earnings increased, yet I assumed happiness would come with the next bonus or increase. We all know that money doesn’t buy happiness but, for some reason, our heart’s emotion tells us differently. This all stems from contentment…we have to find contentment in life which wells up from gratitude. Paul writes that we should flee from such a love of money and pursue a more grateful and loving life.

Every night, when I put my kids to bed ,I ask them what they are thankful for. I want them to realize that, while there is always something else out there, everyday has something to be thankful for. So, let me ask you, what are you thankful for today? Are you pursuing gratitude, contentment, and righteousness? Or are you striving for the next rung which will “surely” make you happy?

Jeff Walter

April 15 – Church and State – Pray for ALL in Authority

Read 1 Timothy 2:1-8

These days, when it comes to how we engage in the politics of our nation and how we treat our civil authorities, it could probably be said of most of us: “Thou dost protest too much…and pray too little.”

I know, protesting can seem like it’s more fun.  And we can be so witty and clever doing it – especially from a keyboard.  It may even seem to be more noble to speak out against all the injustices and anti-thises and anti-thats. The fake thises and the fake thats.

But more than that – and I mean much more – we should be pray-ers. I know, I know, we tend to think that’s not enough. But to cast doubt on the power of prayer betrays our conviction about the power of God.

As Christians, we seek the welfare of everyone. That’s why Paul urges us to pray (v. 1).  It brings God into the equation. It acknowledges His rightful place and His superior priorities.

And, because we seek the welfare of everyone, our prayers should include our leaders – even those we don’t like, didn’t vote for, disagree with, and…who may even hate Christ and the Christian faith that means everything to us (2:1–2). And I don’t think Paul meant we should pray for lightning to consume them from the sky or for the earth to open and swallow them up. He meant we should pray for their wellbeing, and that He would grant them wisdom.  Boy, don’t we need that these days.

But why? Why pray?

Why opt for prayer over protest? Why intercession over denunciation? Ready for the list? It’s short, but helpful (vv. 2-5):

(1) Prayer for our leaders is good. That’s a lot better than the alternative.

(2) It pleases God. That should be our goal. We should want that.

(3) So that we can live quiet and peaceful lives in all godliness and holiness. In other words, we need to pray so that the work of our civil authorities doesn’t ultimately hinder the work of the Church.

(4) It partners with God in the salvation of men and women. After all, that’s why Jesus came. And, don’t forget this, because it might be important for your perspective – Jesus’ government crucified Him.

Politics won’t mediate. Power won’t mediate. Position won’t mediate. Prestige won’t mediate. Just like us, our leaders will only find false hope in these things.  And since we seek the welfare of everyone, it’s our obligation… let me say that again.  No, maybe I’ll spell it out: O.B.L.I.G.A.T.I.O.N. It’s our obligation to bring them before the one and only Mediator for their souls and ours, Jesus Christ (5-6).

But as we pray that our leaders get right with God, we had better be right with God (v.8). And when it comes to praying for political leaders, it’s always worth a second glance at our hearts.  And maybe one more after that, just for good measure. You know what you’re looking for: bitterness, anger, disrespect, dishonor…pretty much “dissing” in general.

You might need to repent of a tweet, a post, a “like,” a comment.  You know, something bold or brash or in poor taste that you were confident about behind your keyboard or phone screen but forgot that the Mediator was looking over your shoulder…and cringing.

So, what’s my primary Christian civic responsibility?

Pray.

That’s it.

Pray.

Start now.

Really, right now.

Dave Lawson

October 30 – The 2020 Election – Prayer

Day 6: Prayer

“Nothing of eternal importance ever happens apart from prayer.” – Jerry Falwell, Sr.

When it comes to our civic duty, we have a role to play (Romans 13) and a call to pray.  We are expected to be praying for our leaders – the ones we like and the ones we don’t like, the ones we agree with and the ones we don’t agree with.  What if we would pray for by name the leaders locally, on a state level, and nationally to have wisdom, discernment, soul care, and refreshment?  While it’s important and essential to our form of government to speak up and be involved, there’s nothing greater we can do than kneel down and intercede on their behalf.

Scripture: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority…” – 1 Timothy 2:1-2a

Am I actively praying for those in authority over me?

Prayer:  God, we pray for those in authority over us.  We pray for our mayor, city and county leaders, our governor, our representatives and senators, and our President and his team to have wisdom, discernment, soul care, and refreshment.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Nick Cleveland

October 9 – Attributes of God – Patience

Read 1 Timothy 1:16

In the summer of 2019, I was able to see in person the statue of David in Florence, Italy.

This amazing statue of David is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture created in marble between 1501 and 1504 by the Italian artist Michelangelo. David is 17.0 ft tall and weighs about 6 tons.

I didn’t really know that much about David but I wondered why somebody would spend three years making a statue of a guy who lived in 970 BC, which was about 2500 years ago to Michelangelo and 3000 years ago to me.

So I have been reading about David in the year 2020, and I have learned that he was a patient warrior.

In the movie HOOSIERS, the Hickory Huskers play for the state championship against a very worthy opponent. The school Chaplain reads the story of David and Goliath to the team in the Husker’s locker room right before the game starts. The Huskers plan was to be patient against a team that likes to fast break. Be patient, work for a good shot, make the opponent work on defense and have a patient attitude. It worked. Just like patience is such a great fruit in life! Jimmy Chitwood takes a shot at the buzzer to make the greatest ending to a sports movie I have ever seen.

When participating in sports such as basketball or golf, you will see patience in action. Patience is a real key to being successful in sports. Good things take time. A beautiful garden doesn’t happen overnight. A beautiful relationship and friendship does not happen overnight. And patience is a real key to success, especially if you honor Jesus Christ while you are patient.  It is a great thing to strive for. It is not easy. Patience is a fruit of the spirit. Patience is at the top of John Wooden’s pyramid of success. Good things take time.

Paul speaks of patience in 1 Timothy 1:16. He talks about how Jesus gave him strength and considered him faithful, even though Paul was a prosecutor and a violent man. Jesus showed him mercy. Paul says that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom he is the worst. Jesus would display his unlimited patience as an example for those who believe in him and receive eternal life.

God was patient with David. The statue in Florence is of a young shepherd who gains fame first as a musician and later by killing the enemy champion, Goliath.

God was patient with Paul. God is patient with you and I.  Are you and I patient with others?

Tom Weckesser

July 14 – United: Country – 1 Timothy 2

Read 1 Timothy 2:1-8

We live in a day where everyone feels like their political opinions need to be heard.  All you need to do is go to any social media platform and let the world know where you stand, who you support or oppose.  There has never been a time like this in my life that our country has been so divided politically.

We have the #notmypresident and #makeamericagreatagain movements.  We have leaders being forced to make difficult decisions on the local and state levels regarding complex issues that no one has had to deal with before.  There is no handbook on how to govern during a pandemic like COVID19.

One thing we need to realize is that, no matter WHICH party or government officials we support, we are called to pray for those in authority.  I Timothy 2:1-2 tells us, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession be made for everyone-for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”

The apostle Paul  is telling the reader that, regardless of who is in office and regardless of political affiliation, we are to stand in the gap and pray for them.  I know some of you may be thinking, “What? He’s not my president.  This isn’t the mayor I elected.” However, Paul says pray for ALL people in authority.

Several years ago I was challenged by one of our pastors to pray daily for our President.  At the time I had my own political agenda and he was from a party that I did not align myself with.  Nor did I care for how he was running our country. I was challenged to pray for him to lead our nation and pray for his family.  Not simply to pray for God to change his heart to align his political position with what I believe;  but rather to pray for him simply because he is in authority of the nation.

I even wrote him a letter telling him I was praying for him and, to my surprise, I received a 3 page letter in my mailbox from The White House, a 3 page letter from the President of the United States.   My heart was changed as I prayed daily for our nation’s leader.

Paul goes on to tell us in verses 3 and 4 that, “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth”.  Did you get that?  God is pleased by us praying for our leaders.  It is His desire that ALL may be saved!  Not just Republicans or Democrats- ALL!

We are to do this humbly, unselfishly and peacefully “lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing” (v. 8).   You cannot turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper today without hearing people arguing over who is right or wrong, which party needs to be leading our state or Congress.  We need to peacefully pray for those leading us.

This country needs you! You are needed to stand in the gap, intercede, lift up holy hands for:

  • Local and state governing officials and law enforcement
  • National leaders, our President and elected officials
  • Our military
  • And thank God for the blessing to be able to lay down at night in peace, knowing that there are brave men and woman who fight for our freedoms and protect our safety.

Nate Mills

September 7 – Names of Jesus – Mediator

Read 1 Timothy 6:15-16, Colossians 1:21-22, Ephesians 2:8-9, Hebrews 7:25, 1 Timothy 2:5-6

Five adult bodies, plus a Shih-tzu puppy, were crammed into my daughter, Kelsey’s, 2001 Jetta. We were headed to Flagstaff, AZ, which is a hair over two hours from Phoenix, where Kels lives. Spending the day shopping and taking in the town we had run out of adventure and kicked around the idea of going to the Grand Canyon. Some were interested; some were not. While conversing with a chatty, young girl at one of the shops, she assured us it was worth the trip. “You can be there in an hour and a half, tops!” Convinced, I pushed in that direction, so, off we went.

Google agreed with the chatty girl but for some reason it took us more like two and a half hours to get there. Trying to pass the time, we played games, but it was a l-o-o-n-g ride while we tried to stay out of each other’s personal space. There was ample time for my mind to wander to comments I had heard in the past, it’s just a hole in the ground, it’s not a big deal.

Arriving (mostly ecstatic about exiting the tiny Jetta) we trekked to the rim. As we walked, doubts were still circling around us like an annoying swarm of mosquito’s, until we finally got close enough to peer over the edge. Gasping, we took in the enormous view. God’s imagination and creative power on display left me tingly. I was awe-struck by the depth, expanse, and beauty. There was not an ounce of disappointment in me. Not one.

I don’t know if you’ve had the joy of seeing the Grand Canyon in person? I hope you have, but if not, could you imagine yourself standing on one rim and God standing on the other? Now, imagine trying to get to Him. If you’re anything like me, you immediately start thinking of ways: calling for a helicopter (my personal favorite), rounding up climbing gear, filling a backpack with water and food, finding a companion to go on the journey with you.

It’s our human nature to think we can get to God, isn’t it. We think we can somehow make it happen if we plan well enough, work hard enough, think smart enough. But as we read today God is ‘unapproachable light.’ The only way into His presence is pure perfection and we fall short.

Thank God He made a way to bridge the chasm. No gear required. None of my effort required, just a humble, life saving, admission of faith that I need Him.

Jesus is the one and only mediator. He is the pure, perfect, peacemaker that takes me from enemy to friend. From alienated to reconciled. The cost was great as He laid down His holy life for my necessary ransom and I’m forever grateful that He mediates for me.

Shelly Eberly

Questions to consider

  • What does this name of Jesus mean to you?
  • How would you describe the giant chasm between God and you in your own life? In what way did it cause you to lean into a relationship with Him?
  • What feeling does it bring you to know that God is incredible and divine yet personable? How can this truth, and the illustration of the Grand Canyon, influence someone to trust in Him for the first time?

 

 

August 15 – Unstoppable – Household Code?

Read 1 Timothy 2:1-155:1-25

“. . . I am writing you these instructions so that . . . you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household . . .” (1 Tim. 3:14, 15)

In this first letter to his spiritual son, Timothy, the apostle Paul makes his purposes clear.  He had left Timothy in Ephesus and now chose to write these words to help the Ephesian church know what proper church conduct looks like.  Bible commentators have come to call these and similar passages Paul’s “Haustafel” or “Household Code.”  When we first hear terms like this, we may conjure up images of signs posted on the wall of the church outlining things like:

  • No running in the hallways!
  • No food or drink in the worship center!
  • No shorts allowed!

A closer look at the contents of the letter, however, reveals something different.

This “Household Code” has more to do with relationships, roles, and responsibilities within the unstoppable body of Christ rather than with actions within a facility.  Paul’s instruction, then, include such things as:

  • The priority of prayer (2:1-7
  • The role of men and women (2:8-15)
  • The qualifications of church leaders (3:1-16)
  • The care for widows (5:1-16)
  • The responsibilities towards church leaders (5:17-22)

Further iterations of the “Household Code” for the church are found in other New Testament letters  like Ephesians, Colossians, Titus, and 1 Peter.  Many of these passages, draw attention to important topics such as how Christian husbands and wives, parents and children, slaves and masters, men and women, citizens and government relate to one another.

We could spend days focusing on each one of these relationships, roles, and responsibilities.  Instead, we are only highlighting its content for your further consideration and inviting you now to ask whether your conduct is in keeping with God’s expectations.  How about it?

Steve Kern

August 14 – Unstoppable – The Foundation of the Unstoppable Church

Read 1 Timothy 3:14-16

There is more to the life of the church than its function of reaching and discipling men and women, boys and girls.  This unstoppable work of God and group of people has another irreplaceable purpose.  It also serves as the “pillar and foundation of the truth.”

The sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments are the sum total of the truth.  Here are just a few things we know about these writings:

  • They are inspired by God. (1 Tim. 3:16)
  • They are the result of the Holy Spirit’s movement of its authors. (2 Pet. 1:20, 21)
  • They train God’s people in righteousness. (1 Tim. 3:16)
  • They equip God’s people for service. (1 Tim. 3:17)
  • They powerfully judge the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Heb. 4:12)
  • They are eternal. (1 Pet. 1:25)

Although there is no danger of the eternal word of God somehow losing its power or relevance, the church is its “pillar” and “foundation.”  Even though seminaries, Christian colleges, and Bible schools train men and women and give them an understanding of the Scriptures, the local church is ultimately one of the last lines of defense, ensuring that the Bible is held up, its truths proclaimed, and its instruction adhered to.

Timothy’s ministry reflects just that.  Paul had left him in Ephesus, giving him the assignment of protecting the church from false teaching (1 Tim. 1:3-6).  Even though there were those there that taught the Old Testament Law, Timothy was to make sure that they taught it accurately with its intended purpose in mind (1 Tim. 1:7-11).  And even in the final lines of Paul’s last letter to his protégé, he encouraged Timothy to “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:2).

Thus, the unstoppable church has the irreplaceable purpose of holding up biblical truth.  Regardless of the latest scientific thought, newest cultural trend, or most recent philosophical approach, the local church is to uphold the truth.

I thank God for my church.

Steve Kern

August 13 – Unstoppable – Minimize Hypocrisy and Maximize Godliness

Read 1 Timothy 3:1-13

There is something unthinkable about this unstoppable movement called the church.  The “unstoppable” flows from the reality that Christ Himself builds it and the Holy Spirit empowers it.  But, still, the unthinkable is found in the fact that frail and faulty men and women play a key role in it.  I am guessing you can complete the battle cry of those outside the church, can’t you?  “The church is full of __________!” (Hypocrites, right?)  It is no surprise that the generational complaint still lives today.  After all, it is true.  On our best days, those of us who comprise the church are prone to wander and surprisingly inconsistent.

Nevertheless, God desires that those who lead His unstoppable church be people described with the word “godly” rather than “hypocrite.”  Through His Spirit, He has listed qualities that should characterize those who serve Him.  Notice that He not only gives qualities for pastors and elders but also for deacons . . . those whose ministry might seem as “simple” as preparing and delivering a meal to someone in need (Acts 6:1-7).  In that regard, every believer in the church of Jesus should, by the Spirit’s help, minimize hypocrisy and maximize godliness.

Though the two lists have their differences, in broad strokes, they focus on some of these general areas:

  • Family commitment – How a person relates to spouse and children is critical!  If you are married with kids, your faith is to impact this vitally important facet of life.
  • Outside reputation – What those in the community think of the church member is important!  Although you do not have ultimate control over that, are you giving them clear reasons to shake their heads and roll their eyes?
  • Financial integrity – Jesus made clear that His followers cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:24)!  Are there dimensions of your finances that are questionable or that have gained a position of priority higher than they should?
  • Biblical theology – Not only the elder, but all who serve must “keep hold of the deep truths of the faith.”  Do you have a grasp of basic Bible doctrines and teaching?

Although God’s desire touches more than we have above, the key question for each of us is, “With the Spirit’s help, am I minimizing hypocrisy and maximizing godliness in my life?”

Steve Kern